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Watch While I Pull A Rabbit Out Of This Hat

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  • Watch While I Pull A Rabbit Out Of This Hat

    by Randy Cassingham

    Professional magicians mystify us and entertain us. From Houdini to
    Henning to who knows who is up-and-coming, we marvel at their slight of
    hand and wonder how they did it.

    Christopher Roller of Burnsville, Minnesota, wonders too. He wonders
    so much that he has sued two of the best-known names in magic demanding
    that they reveal their secrets to him: David Blaine and David
    Copperfield.

    Roller says that if Blaine and Copperfield show him their tricks "with
    scientific principals [sic] that don't defy laws of physics" -- and allow
    him to "imitate/copy in slow motion" as they do it -- and, if in his
    judgement there is a "worldly" explanation for their tricks, he will drop
    the suits. But he's fairly confident that they cannot do the tricks with
    mere worldly power, because they are surely using "godly" powers to do
    their tricks. And that, he says, is the basis for his suits, filed in
    U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota this summer.

    How's that? Roller argues, with apparent seriousness, that if the
    magicians' powers are godly, then they stole that power from him. Um,
    how's THAT? "I am deity," he says, "a messenger of god." And since the
    magicians are using, in Roller's opinion, godly powers to perform tricks,
    that's coming through his special channel to god (er, I guess that would
    be some god higher than himself) -- and they don't have his permission to
    do that. Thus, he says, he deserves 10 percent of their earnings because
    their magical ability was taken from him. "I am the guy responsible for
    his powers," he says, not specifying which magician he's referring to.

    So is Roller saying Blaine and Copperfield somehow saw him perform
    tricks somewhere, and stole them? Nope: Roller says he's not a magician
    himself, and does not perform. "I am a programmer and a writer," he
    admits. "I have my own Internet software I sell."

    But he's serious about the lawsuits. "I would not go to federal court
    just to pull somebody's leg," he insists. No, but he would go to federal
    court to pull someone's wallet: the suit against Blaine, for instance,
    asks for "over $2,000,000" because somehow, "David Blaine has been using
    my godly powers to perform his magic."

    Apparently Copperfield has made more money from Roller's god-powers. A
    lot more: Roller wants $50 million from him. In the Copperfield suit,
    which is similarly brief, Roller notes--- well, let me simply quote it in
    its entirety:

    David Copperfield has been using my godly powers to perform his
    magic. This is a labor dispute in accordance with Minn Statute
    179.06 for past/future commission compensation.

    [My web site] explains my life and my journey to godliness. I
    believe David Copperfield has been using my godly powers to perform
    his magic.

    We've all seen clips of UFO videos. They dance around in the sky at
    the speed of thought. So we know that godly powers can coexist on
    planet Earth. Godly powers means using thought to control
    actions/results, usually defying explanation and laws of physics. I
    believe magicians have also been granted godly powers by me
    somehow, but they have been keeping it a secret and keeping the
    credits from me.

    If David has godly powers, then he must be using my powers. That,
    or I need detailed explanation (in person) of how he does his
    tricks, performed/explained in the courtroom (complete
    confidentiality), and I will leave him alone if I'm wrong - i.e.
    tricks/illusions are done conventionally. I've politely asked
    David, via email, to show me how his tricks are done, with no
    response.

    If godly, I want back-pay compensation - 10% past/future career
    earnings. Estimating 10% of past career earnings of over
    $50,000,000.


    That's the entire lawsuit. (Can you tell he wrote it himself without
    the aid of an attorney?) It cost Roller "like $250" to file it in Federal
    court, but at least he didn't do it until he "politely asked" "David" to
    reveal his trade secrets to a complete stranger, and didn't get a reply.
    If Roller is so godly and Blaine and Copperfield are using his powers to
    perform magic, then how come he doesn't already know how to do the
    tricks? Unfortunately, there's no room for common sense in his argument.

    Some of Copperfield's lawyers' response to the court is worthy of
    quotation too:

    Seeing as how Roller has never worked for Copperfield in any
    capacity anywhere ever and has no relation to Copperfield
    whatsoever, he has no claim currently nor could he ever have any
    employment or labor claim against Copperfield. Plaintiff's
    Complaint is best described as a claim for usurpation of Godly
    powers, which as this Court is aware, is beyond the jurisdiction of
    this Court or any court of this earth.

    (Keep going: it gets even better.)

    Defendant respectfully urges the Court to visit Plaintiff's
    website.... Therein Plaintiff makes the following claims including:

    * Plaintiff is running for President of the United States in 2008
    with Bill Gates as his running mate.
    * Plaintiff claims he is Jesus Christ.
    * Plaintiff claims he is God.
    * Plaintiff claims that [NBC news host] Katie Couric and [singer]
    Celine Dion are his wives and are going to have his children.
    * Plaintiff claims there is a movie coming out soon about his life
    that stars Tom Hanks.
    * Plaintiff claims he has killed all of his enemies.
    * Plaintiff claims he will father 1,000,000 babies.


    While most people would simply call Roller a nutball and roll their
    eyes, that Just Won't Do in a court of law. Rather, they just point out a
    few facts and let the judge come to his own conclusion. But the formal
    response is indeed the time and place to ask the judge to dismiss the
    suit, and they do: "Accordingly," Copperfield's response concludes,
    "dismissal with prejudice is warranted." ("With prejudice" means Roller
    would be enjoined from refiling the suit again, even if he amends it.)

    In federal courts, there is a procedural rule about frivolous lawsuits
    and motions -- Rule 11. When that rule is invoked, the judge can award
    damages against the frivolous action. No doubt wanting to get the suit
    over with as soon as possible, Copperfield's attorneys have not asked for
    such damages, but there's a clear warning to Roller in the response:

    Without waiving its right to later do so, it should be noted that
    Defendant has not brought a Rule 11 motion at this time despite
    ample grounds to do so. Obviously, to the extent Plaintiff were to
    continue to pursue his "claim" herein, Defendant may be forced to
    seek sanctions under Rule 11 in order to deter Plaintiff from the
    repetition of such conduct.

    (The five-page response is interesting reading in its entirety; see
    the link to Source #3 below to read it on the TSA web site.)

    Yes, on the one hand the whole thing is funny, but on the other hand
    it's also awfully sad. The victims of the suits are reasonably rich men,
    and they can afford to hire good attorneys to fight back. But what if the
    defendant were, say, YOU? Then YOU would have to hire an attorney (or
    two, like Copperfield) to fight back, and you may not be a rich celebrity
    with the money to do that. You might have to take out a second mortgage
    on your house to afford it, and take time off work to brief the attorney
    on what's going on so he can protect you. Copperfield's attorney didn't
    demand "Rule 11" compensation to pay the magician back for the money
    spent fighting this junk, but why should that be necessary? When cases
    are this ridiculous, it should simply happen anyway in a sort of court-
    ordered magic trick. And Presto! Maybe that would have stopped Roller
    from filing the second suit ...or maybe even the first one.


    SOURCES:
    1) "'God's Messenger' Sues for a Big Piece on Earth", Minneapolis Star
    Tribune, 14 June 2005 (this article no longer available on the
    newspaper's web site)

    2) Lawsuit filing against David Copperfield (quoted above), date unclear.

    3) "Defendant's Memorandum in Support of its Motion to Dismiss", Court
    Filing, 15 June 2005 (PDF document)
    http://StellaAwards.com/cases/copperfield-response.pdf
    DFTBA
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